Some media outlets are in a frenzy after receiving a tip that Malia Obama, daughter of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, has a secret Facebook account. Her posts included criticism of the Trump Administration, which apparently, is shocking to some.
To me, this “revelation,” (if you want to call it that) is like telling me that water is wet. She’s the daughter of THE Michelle Obama! Which means that not only does she have a brain – she’s probably also pretty good at critical thinking. And anyone good at critical thinking – hell even simple thinking – would have criticisms for the Trump Administration.
I don’t know where this belief system comes from that Malia and Sasha Obama should be void of thoughts. Meanwhile, Meghan McCain (the daughter of John McCain) is a co-host on The View and Ivanka Trump (failed fashion line connoisseur) is in charge of God knows what in the White House.
So for anyone that’s shocked. Yes, Malia Obama (a student at Harvard University) has a brain.
As a Black woman that has experienced sexual assault, the last few days in Virginia politics has left me reeling in a vortex of anger and distrust. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. Governor Ralph Northam effectively lost the Black community’s trust with his admission/non-admission of having posed in a yearbook photo with blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes at the ripe age of 25 years old.
Consequently, he was asked by Virginia Democrats to resign. He promptly refused, causing more mayhem. However, the glimmer of hope was the possibility of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, taking Northam’s place.
Then, suddenly that glimmer of hope came crashing down as sexual abuse allegations spread about Fairfax. With two allegations, one from Professor Vanessa Tyson (2004) and one from Meredith Watson (2000) – it was clear that Fairfax was no longer on the road to becoming governor. It was also clear that the political circus in Virginia was going to become more complicated, more disappointing, and more enraging.
As scholar Melissa Harris-Perry pointed out on Twitter, “Now observers are wringing hands over the “racist v rapist” dilemma facing Virginia. Welcome to the intersection where black women live.”
Democrats were at first unsure how to process the Fairfax allegations. But as Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson told more of their very detailed and compelling stories, a uniformed call for Fairfax’s resignation began. There was even a delegate preparing to impeach him.
At the same time, Governor Ralph Northam was all but planning a quiet victory party, hoping to rebuild his appeal among Black voters with a new race-based agenda. The conversation about his photos with blackface and KKK robes mostly died down. Many people, including some self-proclaimed progressives, rested on the “blackface is bad but not criminal,” excuse.
These statements dangerously minimize the fact that the Ku Klux Klan is a domestic terrorist group. Black communities were not angry at Northam for having bad manners. We were angry because those photographs depict an alignment with people that have terrorized, murdered, and raped Black and Brown people across the United States of America. A 25-year-old man in medical school (FROM VIRGINIA) knows very well what the Klan is and what they represent.
If Tamir Rice was a man, if Mike Brown was a man, if Trayvon Martin was a man, then surely Ralph Northam was a man at 25 years old – fully capable of the repercussions of his actions (both then and now).
As a Black woman that has experienced sexual assault, I am in no way excusing or minimizing allegations against Justin Fairfax. Nevertheless, accountability shouldn’t be selectively reserved when it comes to issues surrounding racism and sexual assault. Though the two issues should never be conflated – we can and should hold people accountable for both.
I feared that Democrats would allow Northam and his allies to weaponize the Fairfax allegations in order to remain governor and never be held fully accountable for his actions. And that is exactly what happened. Basically, Fairfax’s sexual assault allegations became the shield for Northam’s racist transgressions. In that case, Black women, whom everyone suddenly pretends to care about, are no safer, no more protected than we were before.
It’s all a horrible mess that no one could have predicted. But we’re here now, and we have to make sense of it.
In both cases, there must be justice. Fairfax has been accused of a crime. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson should be heard. Their testimonies should be taken seriously. There should be a full investigation, and there should be full accountability. On the other hand, Northam publically aligned himself with terrorists in his yearbook photos. To me, this is enough for removal as well. And he should also be thoroughly investigated.
But now that’s not going to happen.
Between Fairfax and Northam, the only thing I’m rooting for is truth and justice.
However, we can not allow the hope for justice to be weaponized against us. Untangling this web of chaos isn’t easy. Even as I write this, I feel juxtaposed against myself. Perhaps, I am.
However, if Democrats were willing to impeach Fairfax with no specific plan for addressing Northam, they were not truly working towards ensuring justice. They’ve only allowed justice to be weaponized to protect another person in power.
Lastly, as we move closer to 2020, there are only going to be more revelations, accusations, and scandals. I strongly advise Democrats to develop a well thought out process that brings more order and equality to moves towards investigating issues and enforcing accountability.
It’s hard to forgive Omarosa Manigault Newman for her participation in selling out the Black community to an administration that is clearly adversarial to any and all forms of civil/human rights. Since she’s has been fired from the Trump Administration she’s attempted reconciliation with the Black community, which has largely gone ignored (and rightfully so). The Trump Administration, at every turn, has sought to strip away all civil rights available that could benefit communities of color.
Since she’s been fired, Omarosa has been showering us in a rain of anti-Trump stories. Yet, she is essentially telling us what we already know. Donald Trump is corrupt. Yes, Omarosa we know. Oil is greasy. Water is wet. None of this is surprising.
But her recordings, bear witness and provide further undeniable proof as to how corrupt the current administration is. It’s poetic, almost Shakespearean, that she is giving Trump exactly what he gives – unfazed, uncontrollable, outbursts of media-hungry commentary. She has been on almost every major news network this week, while she admittedly beats, “Trump at his own game.”
Still, I have no interest in advocating for a person that so easily plays with Black lives. Omarosa’s previous actions show that she is from the Tribe of Kanye aka the selfers. She’s in this fight for herself and always has been. Would we have heard the recordings if she was never fired? Who knows?
However, as much as I dislike her, those tapes are important and downright historic. Her tapes could ultimately be used in the current investigation into the Trump Administration’s unlawful activities. Considering how hard it is to get real justice in this country, we need as much evidence as we can get. Even if it comes from Omarosa.
And yes, I do get a little cozy feeling knowing that a Black woman is giving Trump a taste of his own medicine. I’m listening to every tape. No, she still can’t come to the cookout but she can drop off her tapes. I might, save her a tiny piece of chicken though. And it wouldn’t have sauce on it.
Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of Our Legaci Press and the author of Rise and Shine, Dear Heart, a children’s book that provides encouragement to young girls, while showcasing diverse skin tones, shapes and sizes. Rise and Shine, Dear Heart is available for pre-order at OurLegaciPress.com/books.
I really don’t want to spend the next three years writing and responding to Donald Trump. In an attempt to maintain my composure – I’ve opted to take frequent breaks from theorizing our current state of affairs. However, one thing that recently struck me was Trump’s insistence that the violence in Charlottesville, VA at a white supremacist rally was caused by “both sides.” He was referring to white supremacy advocates versus their opponents – people that are anti-hatred.
Throughout American history, people in opposition to progress have always blamed the “other side” for violence that ensues when countering oppression. The issue isn’t that the “other side” is violent. The issue is that the other side won’t be passive, won’t accept things the way that they are and won’t fearfully bide in silence.
Thus, they are labeled trouble makers for their insistence that society must make positive and progressive changes.
Harriet Tubman was labeled a thief and an outlaw.
Martin Luther King Jr. was beaten and jailed.
Fannie Lou Hamer was beaten and jailed.
Angela Davis was labeled a fugitive and jailed.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and labeled a terrorist.
Medgar Evers and countless others were murdered.
They were the “other side.” Today, history is on their side.
Playing the blame game is an old tactic and I’m not surprised at all. So to members of the “other side” – keep dreaming, keep pushing, and keep disrupting.
Keep on being the “other side.” We need you.
Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of OurLegaci.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.
This Christmas I will not be speaking to my friend of 16 years. Why??? Well after years of reading his Facebook posts I slowly and painfully discovered that my white friend was a racist. Initially I tried to ignore it but as an African American man I could no longer stomach his increasingly toxic, race fueled comments that were initially veiled as just boisterous, conservative rhetoric. After debating him online for years over politics, race and social topics I finally had an epiphany. I could no longer excuse “Adam” by brushing him off as being a hyper-conservative republican. His truth was undeniable. However, I chose not to confront Adam about it, instead I quietly un-friended him on Facebook. Weeks later he confronted me and unloaded a barrage of online insults accusing me of being the actual racist and a “radical” for calling out discrimination, something I’ve aggressively done for years on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and on my personal blog/website.
Initially I blamed Facebook and the bold frontier of social media, a place where like-minded individuals are able to find strength in numbers in pack like mentality as the source of Adam’s racism. But after deeper reflection I believe it is the rising public influence of social media combined with an unconscious internal racial/class angst within Adam and many other white Americans that has now spewed to the surface with the election and re-election of the nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama.
Adam and I are about two years or so apart in age, both from the state of Alabama, both attended The University of Alabama although we didn’t know each other in college. Four years later we bumped into each other in Atlanta where we both worked for the same company. We vaguely recognized each other, discovered our mutual roots, college friends and quickly bonded as friends ourselves. Oddly, our racial differences didn’t seem to matter especially since we both hailed from a state richly steeped in a tradition of hatred, slavery, Jim Crow segregation and racial discrimination.
Our twenties quickly turned into our thirties as we both chased our careers crisscrossing the nation with eight moves and five cities between us but we always stayed in touch. I remember once when I was going through financial challenges in Los Angeles, Adam gave me a financial gift to keep me going. So we weren’t just causal buddies, we were genuine friends.
The Change Began in 2008
It was the election of America’s first Black President that was the initial trigger. Adam’s criticism of the President, the economy and its sluggish growth, high unemployment along with his 2012 staunch support of Mitt Romney for president and his criticism of Obamacare is what blew open the divide between us. Although these online conflicts are common between social media users and their “friends,” our conflict was much different and far deeper.
We weren’t just men hiding behind computer screens and mouse pads. We were real life friends who shared secrets, hosted each other in our homes, supported, advised and even prayed for one another. Now we were at odds with each other via social media and it was about to get much worse. As the great recession lingered, Adam became unemployed for a long time and felt significant angst about his place in the world and ability to sustain himself. He increasingly blamed Pres. Obama for not fixing the economy fast enough. Meanwhile I was forced to completely abandon my media consulting small business in order to run back to a corporate 9-5 job when my client base dried up. But instead of blaming Pres. Obama I blamed his predecessor Pres. George W. Bush along with the Republican led filibustering within the US Senate which blocked crucial jobs bills which would have grown the economy faster. So our initial online clashes were over who really was to blame for our forced and dramatic career changes and life shifting situations.
By 2012 Adam was unabashedly lifting talking points from far right leaning FOX News network and spewing them across his Facebook feed without an ounce of criticism towards his own Republican party for its constant obstructionism, filibustering of key legislation and judicial nominations along with its gerrymandering of voting districts to seize control of the House of Representatives. He never addressed the conservative led 36 state Voter-ID “suppression” efforts which sought to reduce early voting, the number of hours to vote, plus stopped voter registration drives and blocked students at private historically black colleges and other universities from voting in the states where they attended school.
We soon became caricatures or perhaps archetypes of Facebook. He was now a reliably grouchy Republican poster child stating how he wanted his country as he posted a picture of how red America’s voting districts really were but how we have a Democratic President and controlled Senate. And I would fly in on his Facebook posts like a true blue Liberal Superman countering that much of the red on his voting map represented land based districts and NOT people filled districts not to mention the epic 2010 republican gerrymandered districts on federal and state levels. He soon started to attack immigrants and specifically Latinos when he posted how it felt being a white minority living in certain parts of Los Angeles and seeking out other white people.
But then it really got ugly!! In another post he tried to bash current day immigrants stating how his family migrated to America several generations ago and became productive citizens and that he demanded better from others in “my” country today. I angrily countered that my family had been in this country far longer than his since my descendants came on the slave ship Clotilde which docked in Mobile, AL in 1859. I informed him that Blacks have been in America since the 1600s in Jamestown, VA as slaves and that America really wasn’t “his” country but that he and his family were the true immigrants in America.In another Facebook rant Adam went after the poor chastising them for having too many children and for being on welfare, forgetting that he too was unemployed for a very long time and needed assistance. He also went after a women’s right-to-choose and gays with same-sex marriage stating there were far more important issues to tackle.True to red-state formation, Adam embraced only fiscal issues, rejected social justice topics and the hyphenation of America and instead longed for an era in which white straight men ruled America; an era which Adam never lived however generations later he unknowingly reaped the benefits of it through his white privilege.
Similarly I never lived in an era where blacks were captive to slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws but I still felt the disadvantages and hurdles growing up and becoming an African American man trying to understand why it seemed so much harder for me to succeed even though I tried, worked and networked three times harder as my white counterparts both in business and within the workplace.Adam and I both felt internal angst about America and achieving the American dream but in two very different directions. While Adam’s angst and path is often sympathized, even lauded at times, my angst and path is often discounted, demonized and scoffed as being simply excuses.
Were we really ever friends???
Adam and I represent a microcosm of American society and its growing chasm and obsession with race and class. It’s a battle between a dying demographic (white conservatives) versus a young, growing, dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial demographic which when combined with women, gays, elderly and the poor are finally having their issues and voices heard and addressed.
There’s a belief by the former group that somehow they are losing something when other groups gain their rights or have their grievances addressed. They fear they might be retaliated against once all avenues of politics, business and social dealings are no longer brokered by themselves. It is a fear I believe is striking at the center of Adam’s heart.
Today neither one of us is swayed by the other’s arguments and we exist as polar opposites in the world. So is our 16 year friendship worth saving? The answer for me this Christmas is I’m not so sure.